I spent most of Saturday night in a multi media frenzy. My iPad was streaming Norwegian news’s live reports of Viking Ocean Cruises Sky’s power loss and passenger evacuation to the tv as I worked CruiseCritic and Twitter on my phone to find out what I couldn’t understand from the Norwegians. Someday I really should learn to understand Norwegian.
In case you missed hearing about it, Sky (our ride to Europe last spring) was near the end of a “In Search of Northern Lights” cruise (they found them three times) and was sailing in a storm. They lost power which meant they were at the mercy of the seas and couldn’t maintain forward motion. The rocking and rolling got quite bad as you can see in the video live tweeted from a passenger aboard while sitting in the Explorer’s Lounge looking out over the ship’s bow:
Without propulsion, the ship was being pushed towards the rocky shore, and MAYDAY was declared and passengers began to be evacuated via helicopter. While I can’t imagine how terrifying that would have been, it would have been worse to have to get into a life boat in those seas or worse yet wash up on the rocks! Below is the helmet cam video of one of the Norwegian Coast Guards showing the passengers winched up to the copters.
To think sometimes you have to pay a fortune for an exciting excursion like that! Most of the passengers who the Norwegian news interviewed said it was terrifying but one said it wasn’t as scary as the parachute jump she had done last year to celebrate her 70th!
While the evacuations were underway, they got the power restored and with the help of tugboats were able to move Sky away from the shore and out of immediate danger. About 480 passengers were evacuated when a halt to the rescues was called and the ship headed to the nearest pier large enough for it.
Sunday morning the multi media center was reopened to watch the ship dock and the passengers come ashore. Both those who were evacuated and those who spent an uncomfortable night aboard spoke highly of the Viking crew, Norwegian Coast Guard, Red Cross and the Norwegians in general. The town where the evacuees were taken and the ship docked turned out to welcome and help.
So, not exactly what one wants to witness six days before boarding a sister ship for a transatlantic! However, the calm and professional way Viking handled the incident, and how well they have taken care of the passengers is impressive. Each passenger is getting a full refund, a future free cruise and all their expenses taken care of. I don’t think there was much more that could be asked. From what I can read, all the passengers are satisfied with Viking’s efforts.
There are outstanding questions as to why the ship lost power during a critical time but at least one experienced ship captain believes it was caused by the unusual wave action leading to a power surge when the ship’s screw had less resistance when it bobbed near the surface. This causes automatic systems to shut the generator down. The full reason won’t be known until the Norwegian authorities complete their investigation.
Most importantly, all passengers are safe. There were twenty injuries most of which were minor due to the ship’s movement. So as opposed to the horrible Costa Concordia accident a few years ago which was determined to be caused by the Captain. In this case the Viking Captain appears to have done everything in his power and he successively saved over 900 passengers and 400 crew!